28 April 2012

My Life - Update #5 - Final Decision

I guess there is nothing much to write here, my decision is very clear. INSEAD has been my dream school for so long and I will go for it!

Takeaways from this long journey of B-schools application :
  • The most important thing in business school application is we have to have a clear minds on what we want to achieve by getting the degree. The business schools are not going to take a chance on us if we are still in searching mode. Essays and interview are going to be straightforward once we have that ideas.
  • Be honest to yourself and to the admission committee. There is no point to write flowery essays if they don't reflect your true self. If you are lucky to get yourself into a school by writing flowery essays, you are going to struggle during your study because the school is not a good fit to you. 
Looking forward to my INSEAD experience now... 

My Life - Update #4 - IESE Application

The third school I applied was IESE Business School in Barcelona. My good friend is studying there now and he suggested me to apply. It is a great school located in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. My only concern is that the program is a 2 year program, hence the financing bit will be more difficult.

IESE also required 6 essays plus another one for scholarship application. By the time I applied to IESE, I have already had a clear idea on what I want to do in the future. And trust me, once you have the clear ideas, essays will just flow in naturally. I finished writing my essays for IESE in January and I got my interview on 25 Feb 2012. The interview was conducted by an alumni in Singapore. The result was out in few days after my interview, and again I got accepted. IESE also offered me 30k EUR scholarship for my study.

My Life - Update #3 - INSEAD Application

INSEAD, this school has been my dream school every since I graduated from NTU, it is a great school with world-class reputation. The school is so good that I didn't have confidence to be able even to get in. I attended their open house in September 2011. I talked to some students and alumni and it enhanced my interest in INSEAD. I was contemplating for some time and in the end, I decided to give it a try. I don't want to regret later for not trying at all.

INSEAD required 7 essays too and the essays are much longer than HKUST and even my GMAT is a problem now because my verbal score doesn't meet their cutoff of minimum 75 percentile. I have missed Round 1 application and Round 2 application was on 7 Dec 2011. In the midst of my essays writing, I retook my GMAT. I managed to fix my verbal score a bit and met INSEAD cutoff. Total score of 730 (Q51 - V36). Essay - wise, I managed to complete it just in time, submitted my application on 2 Dec 2011 and sent out my supporting documents to France. I had to ensure that my manager and team lead submit my recommendations on time. Finally, I received a confirmation email that my application had been received and would be considered for R2 application. A deep breath to take here. 

The first good news came around January 2012. I was shortlisted for interview. INSEAD interview is really special. The interviews are conducted by 2 alumni separately. The alumni share some similarities in term of background with the candidate, normally an alumni is relatively younger while the other is a more senior person. My first interviewer is from Class of 2006 working in banking sector. Her interview was more like a peer conversation, very casual and relax. The second interviewer is from Class of 2002, a senior person working in pharma industry from Malaysia (I guess we share South East Asia background). His interview was more strict. He asked all about myself since my high childhood until now. After the interview, I took a deep breath again. The announcement date for R2 was on 24 Feb 2011. 

The waiting is really the most horrible part of the application. INSEAD has the habit to call successful applicant, a call from some insurance agent could give me a shock during that time. In the end, on 22 Feb 2012 (Ash Wednesday for this year), a call from +33... number came and I got accepted to start in Singapore campus. It was such a big relieve, shed tears of victory, I made it to my dream school!!

My Life - Update #2 - HKUST Application

I started looking at various business schools after I have my GMAT score. The first school that came into my mind was Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). The school's ranking has shot up madly in the past few years, they made it to the top 10 MBA program by Financial Times. Indeed a great achievement for a young school (HKUST business school was founded only in 1990ish).

The biggest component of business school application is the essays. I had to write 7 essays for HKUST application. The most common topics for the essays are why MBA, why now, long and short term goals, strengths and weaknesses as well as success and failure. Some people do think the essays are just bullshit, they write what the business school wants to hear. But I see it from a different perspective. By writing my essays, I kept thinking and thinking and I asked myself, what I really wanted to achieve by pursuing further education. HKUST essays are relatively short compared to other schools' essays.

I submitted my application (and also the fee) and after two weeks, I received an invitation for interview. I had the options to do Skype video interview or to do face to face interview in Hong Kong. I believe there are lots of communication gaps in video interview, hence I decided to go to Hong Kong. It was December 2011, for the first time in my life I went completely alone to other country. Well, I have some friends in Hong Kong and it is Hong Kong, a very developed city.

I visited the campus, had 2 interviews, one with the admission committee and another one with an alumni. The interviews went really badly and as expected, I got rejected by HKUST.

Some reflection points on my failure here : I didn't have a clear mind on why I want an MBA during this process. I was still in a searching mode, and yes, the admission committee is able to differentiate candidates with a mature goal and candidates in searching mode. Even though I failed, it is still a significant part in my journey to my MBA.

My Life - Update #1 - GMAT

I didn't write anything since mid of last year and I have so many things happen in my life. Hence, I decided to split things up into several posts.

Let's start from August 2011. I got my CFA result and I passed all the 3 exams in 2011. I'm really proud of it, such a long arduous journey and I made it to the finish line. At the same time, I took my GMAT exam for the first time. I prepared for it myself, using the Official Guide and online forums. The quantitative part is pretty easy and I believe anybody with engineering undergraduate degree will agree with me. The writing part is pretty OK, we can always stick to the structure and as long as you prove you can write something sensible in English, you can get a decent grade. The verbal part, I should say, is really horrible for me. I spent so much time practicing and I still couldn't get a decent grade.

15 Aug 2011 was my exam date. The exam was in the afternoon. It was more tiring that I had expected before. The whole exam took around 4 hours with 5 minutes break between the sections. The score is not so satisfying for me. I got the total score of 710, with breakdown of 51 (98 percentile) for quantitative part, 34 (69 percentile) for verbal part and 5 for writing. The total score is not bad, just that the verbal part is too low.

Why did I take GMAT? I want to go for further study for sure. At that point in time, I haven't even decided yet which school and which program I wanted to apply. I sent my score to some MBA and Master in Finance program. After GMAT, the first real headache came. Where do I want to apply...

17 October 2011

Why Us?

Recently I had discussion with a few friends regarding career vs. relationship and career vs. family. By the time there are conflicts between the two, guys will put their career at first priority while at the same time they will expect their girls to put relationship or family first. For example, when a girl got an overseas opportunity, if they guy thinks it's not suitable for him, he won't go and expect the girl to forgo the opportunity as well. On the other way round, if the guy is the one having prospective opportunity overseas, he will expect the girl to leave everything and follow him. And it is not only the guy, the whole society expect it to be this way.

Some guys clearly state that he is the family-leader-to-be, hence, it is OK for his girl to follow him. Some guys use a softer way to convince the girl to follow him. But deep down in their minds, they never think of give in their choice. Some girls struggle to get their aspirations heard and fail, some girls consciously and voluntarily opt to sacrifice, maybe because of love, maybe because the society deem it as the right move. The result is only one, the girl follows the guy.

The moment I heard about this I felt hit. Why? Are our education easily earned? Are our career easily built? Are guys' careers are careers while ours are not? Helloooooo, the effort we put is not less than guys! Sometimes we even put more effort than guys. I used to believe I always can compete with guys in par, but sadly, the reality is not like that. This society is still guy-centric society. However, I'm not going to give up, I will fight until the furthest I can go.

11 October 2011

New Update!

I have abandoning this blog for quite some time. Life is getting more and more packed these days especially during the weekdays. Everyday I have tons of work to do in office. After going home at night, I am so tired to do anything else. However, at the same time I feel life is getting more and more stagnant. Some of my friends also share the same feeling with me. I think I really need a change in life.

On a lighter note, I am organizing a charity trip to Saigon now. Apparently it is quite fun although there are lots of things to do as organizer, majority of which are chasing people. We are going to a small town 200km from Saigon, called Tra Vinh. The bad news is now there is severe flood near Mekong Delta, the place we plan to visit on our free time over there. Hope everything is getting better when we come.

16 August 2011

Another Milestones REACHED!

Today I finally managed to achieve another milestone in my career, I PASSED CFA Level III exam!Yeah, one step closer to become the charterholder.

My memory goes all the way back to 3 years ago, the day I decided to pursue CFA Program. There are days I didn't have anything other than work and study. There are weekends I stayed in library from opening time all the way to closing time. There are times I felt like giving up and losing my motivation. However, I managed to go through them all and here I am, passed all 3 levels of CFA exam on my first attempt.

Wish to dedicate this success to my Lord Jesus, for all His plan in my life, to my parents and sister for their unconditional support, to my previous manager for all the support and understanding and to all my friends.

01 July 2011

Welcoming the Month of July

Time flies very fast and it's July 2011 now. I can't believe that the year 2011 has passed its midpoint. Sometimes I start wondering, what have I done so far. So let me recall what I did at least in the past half year apart from work and study.

I moved house in February, I rent a 2-bedroom-unit in Commonwealth, sharing with Wang Xuan. There are plus and minus in renting a whole unit. Privacy is definitely the advantage. However, it doesn't come for free. The rental price is more expensive and on top of that, we have to take care of every single matter in the house. From SP Bills all the way to cleaning the bathroom. But so far, I enjoy it a lot. I am getting closer with Wang Xuan too, we can share lots of things and it's nice!

We went to Srilanka to attend Sachini's wedding. She has been one of my best friends and my best travel buddy. People asked me before, why we bought so expensive ticket and went so far just to attend a wedding. We squeezed our annual leave, yes we always have tight annual leave, fly so far to tell her that we wish her a happy married life directly. On the other side, Sachini also squeezed her time out of her busy schedule preparing for her big day to prepare every single detail in our itinerary. It was the most detailed itinerary I ever had in all my travel experiences so far, it even included where to have lunch/dinner and what is suggested to try. And this is what we call friendship. Thanks, Akki!

Now is the last two weeks in my current team. I will start a new phase in my career with a new team on 18 July 2011. A mixed feeling of excitement and anxiety. I really have a good manager and team here. All the encouragements and advice they gave me recently really show that they understand me well. I understand for the past three years, they have been guiding me, at the same time also protecting me. I'd love to stay with them, but I have to grow up as well. I have to step out of my comfort zone and learn new things. So here I am, walking to another path of life.

17 June 2011

Moving On...

I have been disappearing from writing since Easter and now I'm back. I have done my exam on 5 June, I am not confident that I am going to pass it, however I am not confident that I'm going to fail either. I hope I can pass this time, a bit hard though considering it's level 3 exam.

Another update, I'm soon moving to a new team. Yeah, after 3 years in this team, I think this is the right time to move on. Everything is nice in my current time, I have the best manager, I have a strong team, but I want to learn something new. I'm moving to Credit Risk team, feel very excited for new learning as well as new challenges. And this new role is not an IT role, so for sure there are lots and lots of things to learn. I feel a bit sad also leaving my current team. I have great 3 years here.